MasterNewMedia
Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi
 


Monday, January 11, 2010

How To Make Your Website Faster - Part 1: Best Tutorials And Tools To Speed Up Your Website

How can you make your website faster? Are there specific speed-up steps one must take to decrease the time it takes to load anyone of your web site pages? If you haven't heard the news yet, even Matt Cutts, Google search engine evangelist, has already made it very clear that the speed of your site will soon affect your search engine result rankings. So, what is the best way to improve the performance, speed and response time of your web site?

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Photo credit: Chris Lamphear

Broadband connections are not a worldwide standard yet, people not on an ADSL or faster line have to spend more time to search for and to access information online. A website that loads faster can thus help you a great deal to reach users with a slow Internet connection.

"[...] if page load time exceed 8 to 10 seconds, the user's frustration increases. Newer research has shown that about a third of all broadband users are reluctant to wait more than 4 seconds for a web page to load. For narrowband users almost half of them won't wait more than six seconds." (Source: In Usability We Trust)

Put yourself in the shoes of one of your readers or potential customers. Have you ever felt frustrated when trying to open a web page that takes forever to load? So do they.

A website full of videos, high-resolution images and fancy graphics are definitely cool, but at the end of the day it is how easily and rapidly people can access your content that really matters. Remember that when frustration sets in, it will only takes a second for your readers to move on to something else.

It is therefore crucial that any serious web publisher invests at least some time and resources to learn everything possible about optimizing his website for speed.

But where do you start to make your website faster?

Should you optimize your images first? Or maybe remove all those extensions, widgets and side-bar plugins that you have collected and installed over the years? Or is it needed to go and actually start tweaking your HTML code? If you have little or no experience on these fronts, speeding up your website can indeed be a tricky task.

In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find a specially selected set of online tutorials and tools to help you find out everything you need to know about how to speed up your website, including a new, two-part unreleased tutorial from, Drazen Dobrovodski, MasterNewMedia's own webmaster.

In Part 1, here below, (Part 2 here) you will learn with him, how to actually measure and test the performance of your web hosting provider. Since the web hosting provider is typically a critical component of any speed-optimization strategy, what Drazen has to advise is truly valuable and it can be immediately put to use to make your website faster.

 

How To Select a Fast Web Hosting Service

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by Drazen Dobrovodski



Many tutorials about site speed simply skip how to select a fast web hosting service. They proceed to the page coding issues presuming that your host speed is good, and yet the entire story of the website speed begins on the server of your hosting service.

A number of hosting services go up every day so you can't presume that they are all equally good for your needs. If you end up on the bad host, then all the speed you gain with your page code could be nullified by the server / connection performance.

I will not get into all the (easily googlable) detailed explanations about why most websites you see on the net are using shared hosting, and why it means that your site will be on the same hard disk with few dozen other websites using the same Internet connection. It all simply boils down to this - hardware setup of the hosting service and the number of other sites they host is a factor in your site speed. That is why you should measure it and this is how you do it.



How To Measure Your Website Speed - Method 1

First, you must know where your target audience is.

  • If you are targeting a specific country or a region, then you should choose a hosting service from the same area.
  • If your target audience is in the US and your server in China or India, then you can't expect that your audience will see your pages loading as fast as they would if the server was closer to them.

You should also test the speed from an Internet connection in your target area. If you are located elsewhere you can ask someone to do it for you. It's quick and easy thing to do. To test the speed of the connection we perform a "ping".

  • If you are on a PC then go to:

    Start - > Click Run - > Type "cmd" and press enter - > Type "ping [hosting service URL]" and press Enter



  • If you are on a Linux OS:

    Open a Terminal window and type "ping [hosting service URL]"



  • If you are on a Mac go to:

    Applications -> Utilities -> Network Utility -> "ping (enter the URL of the hosting service)"



The response should include something like this:

Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss)



If the response you get doesn't say "0 % loss" in your result, then you don't have to read the results any further - look for another host. It means that HTTP packets (data) is getting lost on the way. If the loss is 0% then look for the line that says:

Minimum = [number] ms, Maximum = [number] ms, Average = [number] ms



These numbers should be as low as possible. They tell you how fast the server is responding.

If the hosting server has bad connection, too many websites or simply some of its sites are slowing the server down with heavy content, and then the server will take long time to respond.

  • If the numbers are around (or even under) 80 that is good.
  • If they are all over 100 (and you have sent the ping from the same country where your audience will be located) that is not good and you need to look for another hosting service.

 

How To Measure Your Website Speed - Method 2

Another fast and easy way you can use to check is the number of servers between your target audience and the hosting service is:

  • On a PC go to:

    Start -> Click Run -> Type "cmd" and press Enter -> Type "tracert [hosting service URL]" and press Enter



  • On Linux OS:

    Open a Terminal window and type "traceroute -I [hosting service URL]"



  • On Mac go to:

    Applications -> Utilities -> Network Utility -> "traceroute (enter the URL of the hosting service)"



What you get is a list of servers between you and the hosting server. All your web pages will go through all those servers on the way to your target audience (presuming you are testing from the same area where your audience is located).

People who have never done a route trace always find this fascinating because it opens their eyes to the reality of the web. All the data from any of the web pages you visit goes through a number of servers before it reaches you.

If any of those servers ends up with some problems or slowdowns, the readers find the access to the site slower regardless of the fact that the server may be fast and pages perfectly tuned up for speed. This means that the less servers between your audience and your hosting server, the less chance there is for something to go wrong along the way. This also explains why major players like Google also place their servers in multiple locations in the world - it keeps the speed up and the load on the servers down.

Once you have signed up with the right hosting service and your domain is live, you can perform the same test only using the URL of your site this time. This is a good idea because hosting services have more than one server and their company site is usually hosted on the best of them (which is what you tested earlier).

Now you want to see how good is the server that your site was placed on. Same numbers apply.

Of course, there are many other considerations when choosing a web hosting service, but this text concentrates only on site speed so, presuming that you are all set up on a good server we can proceed to... [Part 2]

 





Best Tutorials And Tools To Speed Up Your Website



Best Practices

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The Exceptional Performance team at Yahoo! Developer Network has identified a number of best practices for making your website faster. The list includes 34 best practices divided into seven categories that will help you optimize the code of your web pages for smoother loading.

by YDN Editors - Yahoo! Developer Network.

 



Google Speed-Up Tutorials

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Google Code editors have put up a list of tutorials and resources to help you discover performance best practices that real web professionals employ in their everyday work. Very useful for web developers but also for publishers of any size, these collection of tutorials adheres to the commitment of Google to make the entire Web faster for everyone.

by GC Editors - Google Code

 



Google Selected Speed Testing Tools

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There are many variables that affect the performance of your website. The tools listed in this set by Google Code editors can help you discover those variables and improve your site. At Google, claim that multiple simple changes can improve the experience for your users around the world by several seconds. Give them a try.

by GC Editors - Google Code

 



Quick Speed-Up Tips For Your Website

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The load time of websites is one of the most important factors affecting its usability; most Internet users will just skip a site altogether if it fails to load within a couple of seconds. In this article you will find some simple yet effective ways to make sure that your website is running fast. By clicking on each suggestion given you will be redirected to each article for further reading.

by Daniel Scocco - Daily Blog Tips

 



Coding Tweaks To Improve Website Performance

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Jeffrey Way lists a crop of tips and tricks that will help beginners speed up their development time, and code their websites more efficiently. You will find a mix of quick time savings tips, as well as specific coding tricks to increase the efficiency of your web applications and sites.

by Jeffrey Way - Net Tuts+

 



Online Speed Up Tools

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According to recent comments by Matt Cutts of Google, the load time of your website may soon affect your ranking inside search results. So, to help you speed up your site, here is a collection of some useful tools that you can use to start improving your client's site performance now.

by Richard Baxterseo - SEO Gadget

 



Online Image Optimization Tips

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Keeping image size to a minimum is an important part of keeping your sites visual weight low and improve the load time of your website. By understanding a bit about image compression, and how to optimize images for web, it is possible to significantly cut down on image size while improving image quality.

by David Legget - UXBooth

 



Optimizing WordPress For Speed

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People everywhere complain that WordPress is slow and that their WordPress website suffers if they get more than 10,000 visitors a day. What should you do then? Is there a way to make your website faster with a limited effort? There is, indeed. Follow these simple steps to speed up your WordPress website.

by Elliot C. Back - Elliot C. Back: Internet & Technology

 



Optimizing Movable Type For Speed

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While the Movable Type platform already offers a number of different options to build out a system in support of millions upon millions of visitors, chances are you do not want or need such complexity. All you need to know is: what can I do to make my Movable Type website better and faster?

by MT Editors - MovableType.org

 



Speed-Up Tips For Flash Websites

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Images, sounds, videos and animations are all components of your Flash websites, but since all these elements affect the load time of your pages, it is crucial that you learn ho to optimize your code to speed up your Flash website. In this short video, the guys at TemplateHelp.com share with you some useful tips to make your Flash website faster and more reliable.

by TH Editors - TemplateHelp.com.




End of Part 1 -- Part 2 here




Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano and Drazen Dobrovodski for MasterNewMedia, and first published on January 11th, 2010 as "How To Make Your Website Faster - Part 1: Best Tutorials And Tools To Speed Up Your Website".




Photo credits:
How To Select a Fast Web Hosting Service - Jiri Kabele
Best Practices - Ndul
Google Speed-Up Tutorials - Andrea Danti edited by Daniele Bazzano
Google Selected Speed Testing Tools - Andrea Danti edited by Daniele Bazzano
Quick Speed-Up Tips For Your Website - Andrea Danti
Coding Tweaks To Improve Website Performance - Andrea Danti
Online Speed Up Tools - Angela_Way
Online Image Optimization Tips - - Andrea Danti
Optimizing WordPress For Speed - Natalia Lukiyanova edited by Daniele Bazzano
Optimizing Movable Type For Speed - Hannu Viitanen edited by Daniele Bazzano
Speed-Up Tips For Flash Websites - Roman Antoshchuk edited by Daniele Bazzano

Daniele Bazzano and Drazen Dobrovodski -
 
 
 
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Monday, January 11 2010, updated on Saturday, June 25 2011


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